Cologne, Germany - Toyota will try again to win the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2018 and 2019 after committing to another season of the World Endurance Championship.
The team had been considering its position after champion Porsche pulled out at the end of the 2017 season, leaving Toyota as the only major manufacturer in the top LMP1 category, but said on Tuesday it was committed to "at least" the 2018-19 season following publication of the regulations.
The 'super season' will last 14 months and includes two editions of the Le Mans 24 Hours sports-car race in June 2018 and 2019.
Toyota president Akio Toyoda said: "It is highly regrettable that our rival in honing technologies on the roads of Le Mans has left. Yet the World Endurance Championship - and particularly Le Mans, where the battle goes on for 24 hours, including on public roads - still represents the optimal proving ground for achieving the goal of making cars fun for the next 100 years."
Boost for Alonso
The decision is a boost for double Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso, who tested with Toyota in Bahrain in November and is eager to race at Le Mans in his bid to become only the second driver to win the 'Triple Crown' of motorsport. Alonso entered the Indianapolis 500 in 2017, leading that race before retiring when his car's Honda engine expired.
McLaren has ended its Formula One partnership with Honda, opening the door for Alonso to drive for Toyota at Le Mans - a race that does not clash with any Grand Prix.
Toyota said it would announce its World Endurance driver line-up early in 2018.
Only one Japanese manufacturer has ever won Le Mans - Mazda in 1991. Toyota has been five times runners-up and has spent hundreds of millions of dollars over the years in pursuit of victory at the French classic.Reuters